Poltár, a small town north of Lučenec, is well-known in Slovakia for two things: as the home town of Slovakia's fujara-playing president, Ivan Gašparovič; and for its glass-making tradition.
The town's huge glass factory is a legacy of communist-era consolidation of the industry, but small, local glass-making entrepreneurs are now starting to re-emerge, building on Poltár's strong reputation for hand-cut lead crystal in Russia, Italy and, especially, the Czech Republic.
There are now as many as ten small workshops in and around the town, and the recently-opened tourist information office can arrange visits (ask for Jana Majlingová, who speaks good English).
One of them is run by Žaneta Triznová and Michal Radič. After working in the town’s glass factory for several years, they opened their own workshop in 2004, where they employ a team of local craftspeople who cut and paint lead crystal glasses, plates and vases supplied by the factory.
Their workshop produces about 2,000 finished pieces a week, with several hours of work going into the very ornate larger ones. The skills involved are impressive to watch.
Some of them were learned at the town's school of glass-making (strong vocational training being one of the communist system's more positive aspects) but this closed in 2006 and it looks like it will now be left to private workshops like Triznová and Radič's to carry the flame.